Despite howls from Democrats that Republicans were changing the rules because they fear the outcome, the Senate on Monday approved a provision that would let the governor appoint a new secretary of state if Charlie White is found ineligible to have been elected. The provision would overturn current law that says the second-highest vote-getter — in this case, Democrat Vop Osili — would be declared the winner.
The amendment, offered by Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis, would minimize the fallout for Republicans if White is found ineligible. Not only would it let the Republican governor choose White’s replacement, but Republicans would keep political perks based on the number of votes a party’s candidate for secretary of state wins, especially getting their candidates on ballots without going through the petition process.
White has been indicted in Hamilton County on seven felony counts stemming from his having voted in the wrong precinct in the May primary. The grand jury and Democrats allege White did so deliberately in order to cover up that he had moved out of the Fishers Town Council district he represented; White insists it was an innocent mistake.
Democrats contested White’s election, saying that to have been on the ballot, he had to be legally registered to vote. The State Recount Commission, currently controlled 2-1 by Republicans, dismissed the contest on a party-line vote, and Democrats responded by filing a lawsuit.